Avista’s Chief Data Strategist Patrick Dever says that to empower other business units, CDOs have to convince stakeholders, and make data more accessible
Patrick Dever, Chief Data Strategist at US energy provider Avista, is one of a panel of expert speakers at IBM CDO Summit on June 24-25 2019 in San Francisco. He will be speaking on a panel which focuses on how the Chief Data Officer (CDO) can empower other stakeholders to make better use of data.
According to Dever, enterprises have come to realise the importance of data in the last decade, but many business leaders are still sceptical about how much value can really be extracted from data.
He says that this doubt or uncertainty can creep in because of the challenge around identifying and monetising the value. This is why he thinks it is important to have a CDO in place.
“You need someone that is leading that charge who has conviction and belief that there is value in the data that you have, and someone that may not have all the answers but is willing to continue to move forward looking for those opportunities and answers – without someone driving this, you’re not ever going to see the value”, he says.
But hiring a CDO is not enough. A business has to undergo a major transformation to yield the benefits of having a CDO, and utilising data.
“Businesses have made decisions based on knowledge and understanding of the industry, of your products and services and of what competitors are doing – and for many years this, along with your gut feel had been successful” says Dever.
“Now, over the last 20 or 30 years, certain companies have embraced information and used it to make decisions – but that’s a minority of organisations”, he adds.
Dever says the critical part of change management is that stakeholders have to believe in information that they have not had or used previously in their decision making process. He says that this is a time-consuming process.
“If you ask an iPhone user to change to Android – they will be able to change, but it can’t be expected to happen overnight., it would take some adjusting and that’s the change management involved with using data”, he says.
To become an enabler, the CDO has to make the information more easily accessible to stakeholders. The issue is that data has traditionally been very difficult to gain access to and has not been easy to understand. Now, there are technologies that make it simpler to combine data from disparate systems and provide this information. However, this isn’t what a CDO will be trying to lead – instead they will be looking at data science, which is to discover new insights.
“We’re not talking about a report that gives your sales figures from yesterday although this is important, it won’t necessarily help you drive sales today, tomorrow and the next month – and businesses are moving from this descriptive reporting to a predictive type”, says Dever.
“So me and my team are focused on exposing information in a consumable fashion and providing tools to the business analysts that allow them to discover new things in the data, and the key to that is understand what data you have and where that data is”, he adds.
But this can only work if other business units buy-in to the project.
“[The change management and buy-in from departments] is probably the biggest hurdle in terms of using data in our organisations. It’s easy to throw some data against some tools and some data scientists and get some results, but getting people to use that information is a much bigger challenge,” he says.
However, he says once this challenge has been overcome, and business units start to realise the benefits of using the data, it’s only a matter of time before the whole organisation is fully on-board.
If you’d like to hear more from Pat then join him at the IBM Chief Data Officer Summit in San Francisco this June 24-25.
The IBM CDO Summit is a gathering of 120+ C-Suite Data & Analytics executives. Known as ‘the most influential gathering of CDOs’ anywhere, the event is for data leaders, by data leaders.
This June we celebrate our 10th Edition, making this the longest running event of its kind, and certainly not one to miss.
At the event, Pat’s Keynote Panel session will cover:
The Chief Data Officer as an Enabler – Empowering Stakeholders in the Business Units
- What steps can a CDO take to ensure that all areas of the organization are data-driven?
- How can we best combine data expertise, with specialized domain knowledge? Should we lead from a centralized team, embed data resource in the business units, adopt a Centre of Excellence model, or something else?
- Educating & training non data-focused colleagues to allow them to self-service their reporting, analytics & insights needs
- Trust the data, not your gut - Securing the cross organizational buy-in needed for success